Thane: Arrested Thane Municipal Corporation Deputy Municipal Commissioner Deepak Chavan's counsel told a special court hearing the police remand application on Monday, that his appointment was not for carrying out demolition work at all. The statement by his counsel Rajan Salunke stunned those present in the chamber of special judge KR Warrier, who remanded all the nine arrested in connection with the recent building crash to police custody upto April 20.
They were arrested by the police in connection with the crash of the seven-storied building under construction, which claimed at least 74 lives and left more than 60 injured. Additional Public Prosecutor Ruma Navle who appeared for the police told the court that the investigation was at a preliminary stage and that the police which had recovered Rs 5 lakh from the DMC's residence had to recover more evidence and hence police custody of the accused was necessary.
She also said that arrested real estate developers had constructed a substandard building flouting all regulations due to which it crashed killing as many as 74 people. This is a serious offence and there is also proof that developers had paid huge amounts as protection money to civic officers and corporators, besides police personnel. All these factors need to be investigated and hence police custody should be granted, she told the court.
The public prosecutor also told the court that the investigation team had to examine bank accounts and records to establish how much money had changed hands in the process and also how much money had been paid to each of those arrested and other accused by developers as protection money. Appearing for the developers and the arrested police constable, advocate Baba Shaikh told the court that they were co-operating with the police in the investigations. Records and accounts had already been seized from them and since there was nothing more to recover, the court could allow them to meet their relatives before they are taken into custody.
Advocate Akaram Chavan who appeared for arrested corporator Hira Patil told the court that this was the first time a Thane corporator had been arrested for pointing out the civic corporation's mistake. He told the court that when the corporator saw the structure coming up, he alerted the civic corporation on February 1. After the corporation failed to take any action, he wrote to the corporation, specifically referring to the construction in Lucky Compound, stating that it was dangerous to allow such buildings to come up.
Regarding the corporator's name listed among those who had been bribed as per the accused developers' diaries, the advocate claimed that they might have included his name in the list to take revenge, since he had complained against them. He also argued that though the incident was of a serious nature, it does not mean that anyone and everyone should be dragged into the case.